January is the month of New Year’s Resolutions and reflections. My January has begun with a series of reflections on my past, which led to set my intentions for the new year. I thought about the battles I had with my low self-confidence and how I managed to pull myself out of a few rough patches. I traveled back in time and gave my old self a good pack on the back, then I asked myself what my plan was for this year.
For me lists, schedules and goal-planning can often be very overwhelming, and sometimes produce the opposite effect of what they are supposed to do: they make me want to do everything that is not on the list! But I love what I do, so why does it come easier when I don’t have a list? If you’ve read my previous post you know I was on a long bus journey in that moment, and I started asking myself a lot of questions. How can I work towards my goals without obsessing over results? How can I be my friend and ally instead of being my own cruel judge? How can I improve but also have fun? It was then that my future self sat next to me and discussed a bunch of issues. These were some of the answers she provided.
Enjoy the discovery
What you are requesting from yourself is quite unfair. You want to jump to the end of your creative journey by skipping a few necessary steps. You want things to happen now, and you want them to be perfect, but you can’t predict when you are going to be fully happy with your work. The trick is just to keep working, and refine the work as you continue learning.
Do more, edit later
You want to make all the decisions in advance, and have control from the beginning, but if you accept the unpredictability of your creative process you will finally embrace a whole range of possible solutions. Forget your schedule and let loose. Have fun painting, without a particular reason. Don’t decide what it’s going to be before you start it. Keep producing, and once you have a lot of work, edit it and choose what you are going to use and how.
Develop your effortless style
While you are in that place where you are having fun and enjoying the process, do not analyze what medium, textures or shapes you are using. Produce a large body of work, and then pick the features and the techniques you are more comfortable using. Don’t force yourself trying to reproduce something you have seen and would like your art to look like, because that’s not you. It will come to you once you have cleared your head, and you are only looking at your work.
Remember your story
Your strength lies in your story. The experiences from your life, your sensations, your values, your memories. They all compose your voice and your uniqueness. If you stay true to that voice you will produce work that is consistent, evocative and powerful. Trust that voice and people will listen!
If you wait until you feel ready, it might be too late
You will learn how to deal with uncertainty and you will learn that believing in yourself is the first step to translate intention into action. Do not wait to start doing the things you love, because if you don’t get something right the first time, you will get it the second time, or the third time. You remember that idea that sounded just great, and you waited and waited, and the same idea eventually found someone else whilst you were waiting to be ready? Yeah… it sucked.
Drop the not 10/10 Projects
For your side projects choose the ones that resonates with you and with your voice. Don’t spread yourself too thin and don’t try to commit to too many projects at the same time. Make the wisest investment on your time and energy in order to put 100% into something that is really worth the effort. Also start with the project that you can complete with the skillset that you possess at the present time. The time for your ambitious projects will come one day but you need to learn a few things prior, so don’t worry about those for now.
Do not choose something because it feels safe
The rewards and the possibilities that you would want to open up will only happen if you exit your comfort zone and make a brave decision. Think about all the fears which you thought will always stay with you and you managed to conquer. Recognise if fear is preventing you from achieving your goals and explore a different approach, which could be a little uncomfortable for you at first.
Do not expect an opportunity to be life-changing
There have been moments when you had put so much expectation on an opportunity to open up and finally change the cards on the table, and felt so miserable when things just fell through, or revealed not so ground-breaking as you hoped they were going to be. Keep building your portfolio, keep pushing yourself and doors will open up. Cultivate ideas and expose yourself. It is not a big break that will turn your life around, because a setback can happen just as fast. The only safenet for your career is constant improvement of the quality of your work, and the best things will happen when you least expect them.
What you have built was based on experimentation, constance and research. Try not to stay in the same place, and open up to new territories. Maybe the thing you are looking for is something that you haven’t tried yet.
I wish you will maintain focus and motivation to bring the future you desire closer and closer to the present. You know you are in the right mindset right now. Go for it!